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29 July 2014

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Square Meal Canape Cup 2013

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It’s 5pm on the first day of Square Meal’s Venues & Events Live, and we’re queuing for the second round of this year’s Canapé Cup. Along with 300 other judges, we’re looking forward to testing out what this year’s batch of venues and caterers have created as their best bites.
Would Eden Caterers, last year’s winner, reign supreme? Or would it be D&D London’s new catering arm Cinnamon Candy? Or perhaps it would be one of the event’s new contenders: The Hippodrome, Melissa Webb Catering or Alistair-Hugo?
We grabbed a glass of fizz and a sharpened pencil and descended the steps of Old Billingsgate’s Vaults to cast our vote and find out…

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The Contenders

Six-hour cooked Hereford beef fillet by Hippodrome

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The judges thought the texture combinations in this canapé were ‘great’, but didn’t like that the brioche had a more dominant flavour than the beef and wasabi.

Yellowfin tuna rice paper roll by Winter Garden at the Landmark Hotel

This Asian canapé was described as ‘refreshing’ and ‘healthy’, but some felt that it could have been ‘more substantial’.

Crispy miso salmon cube by Feng Sushi

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This one was applauded for its vibrant flavour, but many thought that the crispy rice base was too ‘chewy’ and that it was ‘challenging’ to eat in one bite.

Organic Atlantic salmonby Alistair Hugo

Some praised the ‘great blend of tastes and textures’, while others thought it could have done with a bit more seasoning.

Odun Nengor ‘Nice Nice’ by Stratford Old Town Hall

Definitely more than a mouthful, many described this as ‘tricky’ to eat. Other judges remarked that it was ‘brave’ with its spices and enjoyed it as a vegetarian option.

Tea smoked duck with scotch quail’s egg by Quince at the MayFair

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This canapé scored high marks for presentation and its runny yolk. Its taste, however, divided opinion: some thought it was ‘tasteless’ and ‘lacked seasoning’, others thought the smoked duck was ‘overpowering’.

Critics' Choice

Teriyaki marinated Northumbrian beef by Rotunda

Judges liked the ‘juxtaposition of soft beef and crispy seaweed’ and its one-bite size. We also liked its simplicity – ingredients were allowed to speak for themselves.

Third Place

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This article was first published in Square Meal Venues & Events, autumn 2013.

Out of the Woods by Melissa Webb Catering at Hedsor House

This entry was praised for its style, which was described as ‘dainty’ and ‘different’. Some didn’t enjoy the pigeon’s ‘woody aftertaste’, while most applauded its use of seasonal ingredients and ‘intense’ flavours.

Second Place

Autumn Classic by Cinnamon Candy

The runner up’s entry was described as ‘unusual – in a good way’, ‘fun, as well as tasty’ and ‘an explosion in the mouth’. We thought the texture combinations really stood out: soft, sweet apple encased in a salty, crunchy pork crackling shell.

The Winner

Cherry Picking by Eden Caterers at Ministry of Sound

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The only dessert to be entered, this creation from Eden had our judges salivating from the start. Its presentation on an iron tree won points, as did its ‘delicate’ and ‘well-balanced’ flavours of kirsch, chocolate, cream and cherry. The reconstructed cherries themselves gained points for ‘originality’ and ‘fun’ factor – we particularly liked the lime zest stalk. Great detail.

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